This blog is written by guest writer, Katie Bruno.
As a young professional woman, I am involved in a number of groups and organizations in my community from serving on boards and committees of non-profits to organizing community service projects for my young professional group to teaching financial literacy classes. Being involved in the community is important to me both personally and professionally. I find that giving back helps to teach us understanding and compassion for others and for me, it’s extremely rewarding.
One of my personal favorites that I believe has one of the greatest impacts on the community is 100 Women Who Care. We are a giving circle. Our growing group is local Omaha women who pool our resources to make a collective donation to a charity that we choose as a group.
This article is the first in a new series. SHARE Omaha is pleased to collaborate with Western Iowa Development Association (WIDA) to feature rural Iowans who are doing good. Learn more about WIDA.
Though it’s a short acronym, CASA volunteers play a significant role in the lives of many in Southwest Iowa. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) do the unseen work to ensure the best interests of vulnerable youth in our community, work that deserves to be recognized.
The Southwest Iowa CASA Program recruits community volunteers to serve as a voice in court for abused and neglected children, to secure a safe, permanent and nurturing home for all. One of these dedicated volunteers is Sheila Lewis of Treynor, Iowa.
Jesi, Aaron and little Dax moved to Omaha during shutdowns due to COVID-19. Within minutes of speaking with Jesi, her generous spirit shines through. It comes as no surprise that during this time of isolation, she and her family are choosing to get to know the metro by asking, “How can we safely give back to our new community?”
The Lifting Up Do-Gooders column, written by SHARE Omaha executive director Marjorie Maas, runs bi-monthly in metroMAGAZINE. See the original publication of this article here on page 38.
Who is a Do-Gooder?
Either you are one, or you know a few. SHARE Omaha defines do-gooders as those who see a need and do good for others or the community; those who raise their hands to help when a crisis or challenge arises around them; those who regularly prioritize this good work, even in the light of personal sacrifice.
SHARE Omaha tells stories of volunteers, donors and general do-gooders regularly on our blog at SHAREomaha.org, and with this column we seek to act as a megaphone for those making our community and metro area better. These do-gooders could be individuals, businesses, families or nonprofit organizations.
Higher ed administration veteran Stephanie Kidd has found herself unemployed during the pandemic. Through this struggle, the Junior League of Omaha member has discovered meaning as a volunteer for the Heart Ministry Center pantry. She leads JLO volunteers working the 24th and Binney drive-thru on Friday mornings.
Kidd shared what the experience means to her in a Facebook post:
“Volunteering at Heart Ministry Center has been a true highlight of my spring. It feels really good to be able to provide love and support to folks who need it. I’m proud of the work we’ve done and the partnership we’re building.”
One of our favorite things is to hear from community volunteers about their experiences. Often, these Do-Gooders are using SHARE Omaha as a tool to find their fit and connect to a new way to give back. Most feel that spark of fulfillment, from simply doing a little good, and can’t help but share.
In order for Heartland Hope Mission to address clients’ food insecurity needs, it relies on community support. Some support comes in the form of food and monetary donations. Other support comes from boots on the ground. Count volunteer Jeff Spilinek as a foot soldier who, rain or shine, cold or warm, shows up at Heartland Hope Mission’s South Omaha location to distribute pantries.
“I usually help load food from grocery carts into cars for clients,” Jeff says. “The staff take care of the vetting process, so all I have to do is love on each person receiving a pantry. That’s probably the best part for me. Being able to show love to our neighbors is its own reward. It’s something I look forward to doing."
“Being a regular part of the pantry has helped me become more committed to the mission.”
Many hands make quick work! During KETV’s Giving Wednesday, SHARE Omaha put out a notice that DIBS for Kids needed help labeling and stuffing thousands of reading folders for the next school year. Within just hours, dozens of volunteers said ‘count me in’ and the need was filled.
DIBS (Deliver Infinite Book Shelves) for Kids is a children’s literacy program that offers innovative lending technology to little classroom libraries, serving 13 elementary schools and over 3,000 children. Each year, thousands of reading folders with parent letters and book logs are needed, requiring DIBS for Kids staff to spend precious hours assembling folders.
We have so much great news to share from our nonprofit partners about their amazing work. But, we'd love to hear from you. Let us know if you have stories you'd like to tell and we'll make you a guest blogger!!